If Alaska is your airline of choice and you’re planning to fly with an emotional support animal (ESA) or psychiatric service dog (PSD), this guide is for you. 

You may have heard there were some major changes to the Department of Transportation’s regulations for assistance animals on planes in 2021. This development allowed U.S. airlines to stop recognizing emotional support animals on flights. As a result, U.S. airlines, including Alaska Airlines, no longer accept emotional support animals. 

If you own an ESA, your alternatives if you want to board the cabin with your animal is to fly with them as a regular pet or train them to become a psychiatric service dog. Small pets can board the cabin on Alaska Airlines, but they must fit into a pet carrier, and an additional fee will be assessed on each leg of the flight. 

If you own a psychiatric service dog or are in the process of training one, read on to find out what Alaska Airlines requires for your PSD to board the cabin. 

Good News! All airlines still accept Psychiatric Service Dogs on all flights.

If you are interested in a Psychiatric Service Dog Letter, we are happy to connect you with a licensed healthcare provider so they may assist you.

PSD Letter
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Service Dog Document Requirements for Alaska Airlines

Under their recently updated policy, Alaska Airlines will allow service dogs and psychiatric service dogs to board flights in the cabin with their owners, free of charge. Each passenger is allowed to have up to two service dogs. 

To fly with a service dog, you must submit the DOT’s new Service Animal Air Transportation Form to Alaska in advance of your flight. The DOT created this new form and is now universally required by U.S. airlines for passengers who wish to fly with their service dog. The form requires the owner to make attestations regarding their dog’s training, behavior, and vaccination status. 

DOT Form - Service Animal Health Behavior Training Form - Download -- ESA DoctorsDownload the DOT Form – Service Animal Air Transportation Form (pdf) here.

If your reservation is made more than 48 hours before departure, you can submit the DOT form through a link on Alaska’s website. If your reservation is made within 48 hours of departure, you can print a copy of the DOT form and submit a completed version in person at the gate of departure. 

You should also note that while at the airport and on the plane, Alaska Airlines team members can ask two questions under federal law to verify your service dog:

  1. Is the service dog required because of a disability?
  2. What task or job has the dog been trained to perform? 

A disability for purposes of the DOT’s rules includes mental and emotional health conditions and learning disorders that substantially limit a major life activity. That can include severe depression, anxiety, PTSD, phobias, autism, and learning disabilities. A healthcare professional licensed for your state can help assess whether you have a qualifying disability for owning a psychiatric service dog. ESA Doctors can connect you to a licensed professional who can issue a signed PSD letter if you qualify. These licensed professionals provide their services remotely, so you can find out if you qualify without ever leaving your home. 

Alaska Airlines Emotional Support Animal Policy

(Disclaimer: The information in this article is for educational purposes and should be confirmed directly with the airline. ESADoctors.com is not associated or affiliated with this airline or any of their subsidiaries.)

Rules that Apply to Service Dogs during Flights on Alaska Airlines 

There are some ground rules to flying with a psychiatric service dog on Alaska Airlines you should be familiar with before boarding your flight:

  • Your service dog cannot exceed the footprint or personal space of your seat or foot area during the flight. 
  • You must have submitted the DOT form discussed earlier. 
  • Your service dog must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered and under your control at all times. 
  • Your service dog must be seated on the floor space below the seat. Your service dog can sit in your lap to help with your condition if it is no larger than an infant. 
  • Service dogs cannot sit in seats or on tray tables, and they also cannot occupy the aisles or emergency rows. 

You should also be confident that your service dog is capable of handling the hustle and bustle of a busy airport and crowded plane. Service dogs can be banned from a flight if they are being disruptive or causing a safety or health hazard for other passengers. Examples of unacceptable behaviors include:

  • Excessive barking
  • Not responding to the handler’s needs or commands
  • Freely wandering or running around 
  • Relieving themselves in appropriate areas
  • Jumping on other people
  • Eating off tray tables

Qualifying for a Psychiatric Service Dog

Psychiatric service dogs are used to treat many of the same conditions that emotional support animal owners suffer from. That has led many ESA owners to ask whether they would qualify for a psychiatric service dog.

While ESAs and PSDs are used for similar mental and emotional health issues, they are very different in terms of training requirements and usage. An ESA provides comfort just by being around its owner; no special training is needed. In comparison, PSDs are highly trained to assist their handlers and function in public settings around other people and animals. 

Psychiatric service dogs perform tasks like providing pressure (like pawing) or other tactile stimulation (for example, licking) to comfort during moments of crisis, reminding handlers to take medication, becoming attuned to psychiatric episodes, and providing alerts, interrupting self-harming behaviors, and many more. PSDs are often trained by their owners, and there is no requirement for professional training, although it’s recommended for novice dog trainers.

For additional information on flying with a PSD, click here.  

If you’re wondering whether you might have a qualifying disability or you’re a current PSD owner that wants backup documentation, ESA Doctors can help. ESA Doctors can pair you with a healthcare professional licensed for your state to evaluate your mental and emotional health and provide a signed PSD letter to you if you qualify.  

How to Get your Psychiatric Service Dog Letter from ESA Doctors


Your ESA may qualify as a PSD

What if Your Pet Doesn’t Qualify as a Service Dog?

If your pet or emotional support animal does not qualify as a service dog, it may still be able to board the plane cabin as a regular pet if it meets certain requirements and you pay a fee. On Alaska Airlines, there are many restrictions for pets to be aware of before booking a flight. Alaska Airlines accepts household pets that are dogs, cats, rabbits, and birds. If you have a dog or cat, they must be at least 2 months old and be fully weaned. 

Alaska Airlines charges a pet fee of $100. To travel with a pet, it must fit in a carrier that is a maximum of 17 inches x 11 inches x 7.5 inches for a hard case or 17 inches x 11 inches x 9.5 inches for a soft case. The carrier has to be leakproof and fully enclose your pet with adequate ventilation. 

Alaska Airlines accepts a limited number of pets on each flight, so you should book your reservation as early as possible. Alaska Airlines will accept one pet carrier in First Class seating and five pet carriers in the main cabin on each flight.  

Other rules to be aware of when traveling with Alaska: 

  • You are allowed to bring the pet carrier with a personal item or the pet carrier together with a standard-sized carry-on bag. 
  • You can have a maximum of two carriers in the main cabin only if you have also purchased the seat next to you. 
  • Pets are not allowed to occupy seats by themselves. 
  • You can have two pets of the same species and similar size in one pet carrier as long as no part of their body protrudes from the carrier, and they are not in distress. 
  • Your pet must remain in the carrier with the doors and flaps secured at all times, including at the boarding area and during the flight. The pet carrier must be stowed under the seat during taxi, takeoff, and landing. 
  • Your pet cannot have any offensive odors or create any noise disturbances. 

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re flying with a psychiatric service dog or regular pet, letting Alaska Airlines know ahead of time, becoming familiar with their rules, and submitting any required documents before departure ensures a stress-free experience at the airport. Whether you have a PSD or a pet, your animal must be prepared to deal with airports and planes without bothering other passengers or causing a disturbance. 

The information on this page is for general informational purposes and should be confirmed directly with the airline. ESADoctors.com is not associated or affiliated with this airline or any of its subsidiaries.

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